THE Malaysian Government cannot collect evidence from Hong Kong to use against a Sabah politician accused of corruption because it is a politically motivated prosecution, the High Court ruled yesterday. Malaysia wanted to take evidence from five witnesses resident in Hong Kong to use against Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who faces seven corruption charges in the High Court of Borneo. In a chambers hearing last month, Mr Justice Jones was told that Master Beeson had refused to allow evidence because the proceedings were of a political character. The Crown appealed, but in a 26-page judgment - it was handed down in open court because of its significance - Mr Justice Jones yesterday held that the proceedings in Sabah were clearly political. The evidence sought is understood to concern the movement of money. A government source said the ruling meant dishonest people overseas who faced prosecution could feed corrupt money into Hong Kong and claim to be dissidents, arguing that the information could not be revealed. The Legal Department will consult the Malaysian Government to consider an appeal. The judge agreed with Michael Thomas QC, representing Kitingan, that the charges of corruption were part of a political campaign against the leadership of an anti-Government political party. It was part of a sustained campaign to victimise Kitingan for his political activities and beliefs. ''Dr Kitingan has been discredited by the accusations that he is a tax evader, corrupt and a threat to the security of the state,'' Mr Justice Jones said. ''The allegations are clearly politically motivated and inextricably linked with politics.'' Kitingan, who has degrees in business administration, public administration, law and diplomacy and a doctorate in international affairs, is charged in Malaysia with taking bribes while director of the Sabah Foundation, in return for approving vessels toexport logs from Sabah. The court heard that a long-standing bitter dispute existed between the Malaysian Government and the state government of Sabah about assurances given to Sabah in 1963 over protection of people's religious and immigration rights. Mr Justice Jones was told of claims that, from 1976 to 1985, these rights were eroded by the Government with the connivance of Sabah's state government. In 1984, Kitingan's brother Datuk Seri Joseph Kitingan led a new political party, the Parti Bersatu Sabah, to victory on a promise to restore state rights and reform the timber shipment industry. He became chief minister of Sabah in 1985 and Jeffrey Kitingan was appointed chief executive of the Sabah Foundation, a charitable body set up to distribute income from timber exports. A commercial arm was established and earnings rose rapidly. In 1988, Kitingan tried to break a Japanese cartel's monopoly on the shipping of logs from Sabah. He failed, but the court was told commercial interests with links to the Government in Kuala Lumpur were antagonised. In 1989, the federal Government Anti-Corruption Agency began to investigate Kitingan and his brother Joseph. The judge said it was significant that the Anti-Corruption Agency was under the control of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. One week after the Parti Bersatu Sabah won the state election with an increased majority, Jeffrey Kitingan was charged with 12 counts of failure to disclose assets. In January 1991 Joseph Kitingan was arrested on three charges of corruption and five months later Jeffrey Kitingan was arrested on suspicion he was involved in a plot to secede Sabah from Malaysia. He was detained until last month. Clive Grossman QC, for the Malaysian Government, produced affirmations from the Anti-Corruption Agency and a government prosecutor that the corruption charges were not politically motivated. Mr Justice Jones said he had to look at all the circumstances and motivation of the prosecution and Kitingan. The judge found that evidence taken in Hong Kong would not be admissible in a criminal trial in Malaysia and ordered that taking evidence there would be an abuse of the court's process.